Whoops

Whoops. Or whoopsie-daisy for the more formal amongst us. I seem to have made an error.

I was able to recognise it because I remember making one once before – 1959, I think. The things crop up every so often. In this case it was a mistaken coat of paint on a model airplane.

The plane was fine to begin with and so was the paint in the jar, but the application was done thoughtlessly – and the result showed it. A botched piece of art, without even the saving grace of a high price tag.

Mistakes are one thing, mistakes when you know the proper thing to do are another- and I did know what to do because I’d read the proper procedure and had done it before. This was careless error.

I paid for it – with a couple of hours of gnawing dissatisfaction and then a further hour of hard work scrubbing the whole mess off the model with methylated spirits. Yesterday I spent more time carefully re-coating the plane with the undercoat and then carefully spraying layer after layer of thin paint with plenty of drying time between coats. Today there will be further masking and detail painting, and tomorrow I’ll be where I could have been two days ago.

Moral? And it’s one that you can apply to every facet of life:  Do it right the first time or the last time. If you’re smart these can be the same occasion, and then you’ll have more time to do more fun things.

The Loss Of Something – The Return Of Something

Some years before I stopped my dental career and sold the practice I started to notice a diminished ability to see clearly. This was the ageing process at work – first there was the loss of fine focus and then the onset of floating shadows in the eyes. These are a natural thing in the body of the eyeball – frightening when you first see them but one eventually copes.

Then the increase of glare effects as cataracts started to develop. This has increased over years and will one day need to be addressed by an ophthalmic surgeon. I’m not looking forward to this, but it has been mentioned that once it’s done I may be able to dispense with eyeglasses.

I don’t know whether this is real – nor whether I think it an attractive proposition. I’ve been wearing eyeglasses since I was 8 years old in a family that also wore them. No stigma was ever attached, save that from yokels in the 8th grade – and they were not valid critics. Losing the glasses now would seem somewhat like losing a part of my personality.

I also can’t imagine the operation for cataracts being so flexible as to allow close distance focusing as well as infinity sight – I’d still have to wear spectacles for one or the other. I’d opt for glasses for close work as it is what I am used to. But the prospect of open-air infinity focus with no frames to limit my vision is a bit of a siren call. I see the world in a frame – Panoramas are taken in pieces. The thought of a sweeping vision…

PS: Don’t wring your hands for me – I can take my glasses off now when I build scale model airplanes and paint the things with infinite precision. And unlike smelly mouths, I don’t mind how close I have to peer at them to get it right.

Hoards For The Hordes

I shall no mention toilet paper in this essay. It is a subject I put behind me.

I have been a hoarder in my time. The objects I collected were books, large format cameras, and model airplanes. I say were, but in two cases, the process is still going on – the large format cameras have long been disposed of to fund digital equipment. that is a story for my photographic column, so go there and lurk…

The concept of the hoard is actually complex. The computer’s dictionary defines it as a stock of valuable objects that are hidden away. This is partially true for the model airplanes but not at all for the books. I have them prominently on shelves and dive into them all the time. I lend them out and sometimes they are lent on or purloined by those who have received them. They are a resource, but a fluid one.

The value of both these forms of collectible is possibly something that you could calculate, but I’ll bet any figure you set on them would be wrong. Goods are only worth what people will pay for them and my experience of people who get secondhand books or plastic models is that they try to pay mere pittances. So it is not a hoard of potential gold that I hold. It is a source of pleasure.

And that probably cancels the name ” hoard ” and the negative connotations. No one buys and I do not sell. I am in no different position than a state art gallery that exhibits for pleasure and edification. Of course they have boards and accountants that probably slaver and gobble over the rise in price of whatever they hang, but they rarely sell to anyone else.

 

 

 

Pay Today Or Go Away

Every so often the internet gives us a simple lesson in life.

Either it shows us simpletons at large – like the current crop of cultists – or it reminds us of the basic principles of social commerce.

I’ve been watching a website for a year now – an advertising vlog produced by a very pleasant fellow in the UK. He deals in the hobby of building plastic models and has done so on a professional basis for decades. He’s part of a small company that manufactures accessories for the hobby and is part owner of a hobby shop. He’s also a very entertaining and knowledgable speaker – his daily shows are a lot of fun to see.

However, he’s adopted the business model of a subscription for the show – some 40 British Pounds per annum. I daresay it is a small fee for some in the UK, but amounts to the same price here in Western Australia as the annual fee for our own modelling club. That’s a hands-on social group that can entertain us 3 days out of 7 every week. Real participation without advertising.

This last year has seen innumerable changes in the presentation of the English chap’s vlog programs, but the latest one is to remove most of them to a paid-only status…leaving just a few crumbs of free viewing. He wishes us to subscribe, and probably needs the money from the subscriptions. But most of us also need it, and simply won’t pay.

It means we won’t be watching…and over time we will forget that we wanted to. We will go off to other – free – experts on the internet for our entertainment. Or we will entertain ourselves in our local clubs.

Monetising something is a temptation for every internet presenter. You see it with news services and the internet versions of some prestigious journals. But it don’t work. We can get much the same for free, and we go for that.

Entice us with bargains for actual goods. Sell hobby supplies, books, decals, or anything else you make. If the goods are valuable we’ll pay to have ’em shipped. But don’t provide free tasters and then a bill for something that is just talk – we can talk amongst ourselves.

Sad to think that we might have become such misers, but there it is.

Facebook’s Community Standards

Or Hold The Stainless Banner High…*

I’ve been scolded by Facebook for posting a story in my column that deals with scale model building – a story in 8 or more parts. It’s the history of the Royal Ruritanian Army Air Force and Facebook thinks it is spam. And says that it contravenes Facebook community standards.

I have to admit, it doesn’t contain:

a. Sneering memes about an American President or Australian Prime Minister.

b. Thoughts and prayers.

c. Sneering references to thoughts and prayers.

d. Cat videos.

e. Advertisements that have been paid for by businesses based upon my browser history.

f. Games that seek to find out people’s preferences so that the information can be sold to advertisers.

So, yes, my columns do not conform to Facebook community standards. If they did I should be deeply ashamed.

I wonder if Facebook is ever deeply ashamed…?

*   I was listening to the old Civil War song of this name…but I can’t be sure if the lyrics mentioned ” stainless ” or ” brainless “… which would explain a great deal about the current problem.

 

 

 

You Get One Hour And That’s All

No, this isn’t a pay-per-view site with kitten videos…

I am at the computer desk for one hour while a coat of spray varnish dries on a model airplane. I’ve learned that it is dangerous to be in the workshop while paint dries as I eventually touch it to see if it is dry and it isn’t. See? Even perfect characters have flaws…

I think the one-hour rule would be good in many aspects of life. Meals, for instance – if you are going to dawdle for several hours either you are going to eat and drink too much or whatever it is you are pushing round the plate is not worth the time. And timing is everything.

Sex? Well, decide that one for yourself, but consult your partner about the issue. 60 minutes for a 63 -minute person is a bad time to quit.

Reading? Well, you might stretch a bit further if it’s a 19th century French novel with heaving bosoms and creaking bedsprings, but technical journals and political columns can definitely be limited to an hour.

Gardening? Oh, that one could definitely stop at an hour. But one always seems to be in the middle of a rose bush with secaturs – bleeding – doesn’t one? In the end you are not so much pruning as cutting yourself free.

Driving? Yes. Stop the car. Get out and either pee, puke, or purchase petrol. Reset the mechanism.

Television? Set aside an hour a day to watch television. Then don’t. Read a book.

Exercise? If you can sprint on a treadmill or do push-ups for a solid hour – and wish to do this –  there is nothing I can say to you that you can hear.

Hobby work? A fair call. I’m waiting out a coat of varnish so that it can be smoother. if I had a spray room with a door sealing it, I could carry on with some other modelling task while I was waiting.

Photography? An hour in a studio with a glamour model is a short time. With a family of unhappy portrait customers it is an eternity.

 

 

 

Why Don’t You Want To See This Ad?

Facebook asks me this question twenty times a day as I hide advertisements but only provides a limited number of possible responses. Let me correct this by supplying the real reasons the ads were turned off:

a. There are too bloody many of them. Whatever shit is being shilled, the fact that one cannot goggle over the love life of friends or look at cat videos is the real irritant. Reduce them to one an hour… and I’ll let you know which hour.

b. They are blatant and/or sneaky. Either way, they are trying to sell something to someone who is trying not to buy.

c. If I wanted to read an advertisement I would google up the product I fancied, in the sure knowledge that I would be inundated with the spiels. I read Facebook for gossip, not commerce.

d. Who engages you to press debt upon us? We are fighting like cats to repel it – you do yourself no good by trying it on. We know how it fits already.

I realise that you have purchased my profile from Google, who sees everything I do and that you are on-selling it to the people who want my money. This is basic piracy and I respect that. But how can you get it so very wrong? I want model airplanes and hot rods and Chinese camera lenses and pin-up girls. You must have some somewhere – why try me out with cruises to tropical hell-holes or on-trend shoes? If you must pester me, pester me with the stuff I want…not the dreck that other people choose.

 

The Price Of Crime

I take no interest in screen crime – and only marginally more in the detective novel stuff. There’s a warm spot in my heart for Kinky Friedman, Father Brown, and Hercule Poirot but that’s about it. However I have an intense interest in our local criminals who prey on shops.

I don’t work in a shop anymore – and we didn’t have much shop crime at any time – but I do visit our local hobby store. And their experience with criminals is affecting me.

They are in a nice new set of tilt-up premises along a major highway. They share the complex with a couple dozen good shops. But they seem to be the target for break and enter thieves. Ever since they opened – and that was just a little over a year ago – they have had 11 break-ins at the front of the premises. The thieves want the expensive radio control gear, drones, and other salable goods. Presumably there is a criminal trade in this for the holidays.

Now there is a new determination on the part of the management to resist this sort of thing. They’ve added steel mesh to the front glass window of the store and completely covered the inside with a wooden framework and panelling. It has unfortunately reduced the lighting to the in-store fixtures with no window light to supplement it.

And it has cost – I don’t know how much the previous breakings have netted the thieves or cost the owners – nor do I know the price of the alterations. But I know it all has to be paid for by someone – and that someone is the legitimate customer. We pay a premium price in the cost of goods because of others’ criminality.

Well, let us hope it stops and the economic pressure reduces. I support the shop and hope they will do so well now that the prices can be capped. It is too much to hope that the police will catch the would-be thieves, but perhaps the scum will target someone else now. Or finally achieve their fatal overdose.

Yoot

Passing the week in an armchair is not as delightful as you may think – particularly if the sitting down portion is interrupted with getting up and being in pain. And very much if all the things you want to do are somewhere else in the town or in the house…and you’re sitting there in that damned armchair.

Well, it’s getting better, and more mobility is coming…but for the time being the iPad and a clip-on keyboard is the only game in town. And I have just discovered YouTube. Don’t laugh – for a Luddite this is a big thing. And it has been a blessing.

I follow scale modelling videos – this week has been a good chance to review airbrushing tutorials from a famous British presenter, and since he is fielding questions from all oer the world regarding this art, many of the things I’ve worried about have been dealt with. I am also encouraged to see that he has made as many mistakes as I have …so far…and has figured out how to recover from them.

Other presenters are prehaps not as professional as Mr. Flory, particularly if English is not their first language, but every so often they will have a gem of an idea and lay it out in front of you modestly. Every day has been profitable in new ideas. And I suspect that this sort of pattern may be repeated in lots of other fields and topics.

One thought, though…the introductory sequences and titles can sometimes be reminiscent of Hollywood Extra Efflux. Perhaps a little lighter on the gunshots and violent animation. At least one doesn’t have to sit through layers and layers of studios, holding companies, and corporate facades before the main feature. And watching at home, the snacks are cheaper.

If you can hobble about well enough to get to the fridge…

I Think You Can’t…I Think You Can’t…

Or, The Little Engine That Worked For The Local Council.

I have a confession to make – I have stopped asking the local council for permission to do anything. I’ve stopped asking  the state government the same question. In fact, I’m even considering cutting the federal government out of the equation when it comes to deciding how to order my life.

I’m not going to go so far when it comes to the wife. That’d just be crazy talk.

But flouting the local authorities would seem to be a good idea these days. I am no longer in receipt of a big income, nor of a pension, so throwing money around for permits and licenses seems like a waste of resource. I am fortunate in that the things I fancy are lawful and reasonably healthy and can be made to attract little attention. I am not fool enough to activate the sumptuary laws buried in council regulations nor the jealousies buried in the hearts of my neighbours.

Case in point: The state government would like to have anywhere from $75 to $100 to register a business name for me. I would like the same amount for hard liquor and model airplanes. Therefore I have named my business to my own satisfaction, to the satisfaction of my clients, and to that of the Australian Taxation Office…without reference to the local Jobsworths. I figure the financial feds trump them anyway.

I also operate a model airplane workshop in my back yard shed. I’d be willing to bet there are a dozen council regulations that might be applied to it, but after getting the first piece of paper allowing erection of the structure 35 years ago I don’t see that it is any of their business what I build in it. If I start to assemble floating mines I will reconsider…

And so on. Our family parks our cars on the front lawn as there is insufficient space for them in the carport. Betcha that’d get a fistful of paper if I were an enemy of the council…but I’m not. They see the rates paid and the bins sorted and the anonymity this gives me is just what I want.